Film Review “Good Night, and Good Luck”

One of my best American friends working in Journalism always tells me that I should watch this great movie, “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Finally I did. To me, it was like a well-round journalism history review, a journey to the evolvement of journalism.

The Movie "Good Night, and Good Luck"

“Good Night, and Good Luck” is Murrow’s signature out cue of his program. By watching this film, I got to know the career and life of Murrow, as well as the early broadcast industry. Actually, the two are not separated at all. In the website Historynet.com, Murrow was credited as “inventing broadcast journalism.” It’s probably true. By the time Murrow was producing his TV show “See it Now,” it was the era of radio. Murrow and his colleague had to learn from the basic shooting skills to make the program. They were the entrepreneurs, the adventurers, exploring a new field with their talented sense of journalism.

What Murrow explored was not only about advanced technology for that time. The ideology of journalism had also been advanced thanks to Murrow. The movie tells the story about conflict between Murrow and Senator Joseph McCathy. McCathy, senate from Wisconsin, was promoting this huge activity agains communism. Many people were accused of being communism. Many of McCathy’s charge could not support itself, but he got his national fame during this anti-communism campaign.

One of the things I also noticed is that Murrow used a lot of “We” in his program. It’s more like commentary. That is one of the feature that has been excluded from today’s journalism. Murrow, with his perfect looking for TV and charismatics, was like a knowledgeable idol who told the viewers the truth.

When Murrow did a story about the case of Milo Radulovich, who was fired from the Air Force because his mother was accused of being communism. Murrow explained his opinion about the case and McCathy’s anti-communism on air. Later, he rebated McCathy’s accusation with McCathy’s own speech. He encouraged Americans to be fearless and avoid the pointless accusation:

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the Republic to abdicate his responsibility.”

We could always see Edward Murrow smoking in those old photos.

Murrow is indeed fearless. He even sponsored his program with his own money in order to speak out the truth in his program. However, CBS CEO Bill Paley still decided to move Murrow’s controversial program to Sunday. Paley, as he said in the movie, never censored Murrow’s program. But his last decision did show a compromise during the journey of exploring broadcast journalism.

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A New Story from Media Storm — She Looks Back

I was so excited to find a new story published on the Media Storm. It’s a story produced for American Institutes for Research to visually document the impact of their educational projects. The story focuses on women’s education in Liberia. “She looks back” is quoted from the Liberian Administer of Education. She was talking about girls’ education. If the girl is educated, she will contribute back to her family and the society.

The numbers in the story are striking. The number of school before 1989 were 2400, whereas the number decreased to 480 by 2003 as a result of war. Only 31% women can read and write.

The Liberian girl has a beautiful smile in the picture.

Liberian Administer of Education said in the story that in their culture “a girl child is a caretaker.” Girls in Liberia usually have the responsibility to do housework for their family. The girl washes dishes, cooks, takes care of her siblings and parents. Here, in terms of journalism, I really appreciate the nice sequence of the girl cooking. A sequence of shots not only reveal the tedious and time-consuming process, but also show us their humble house and simple food. A girl going to school means some other members from the family have to take care of their home, otherwise there will be a vacuum. Therefore, it is crucial for the parents to understand the importance of education, and support their daughters to go to school.

However, many of the parents didn’t go to school. They didn’t understand the importance of education. The positives created by education is long-term, versus the short term need of taking care of the house. Unfortunately, if the parents don’t understand the long-term paybacks and only focus on the temporary duties, the girls education won’t be permitted.

Another barrier is the financial burden, which in turn becomes the value of this excellent journalism piece. 1.7 out of 3.5 million of Liberians are living in poverty. The girls in Liberia might not have the access to education because their families can’t afford it. The story of “She looks back” will let more people be aware of the issue and provide potential help to them. This impact reminds me of a guest speaker to our Broadcast II class. He said he wishes future journalists would report something that have a positive impact to the society, as opposed to chasing crime and accident all the time.

The story inspired me that as a young journalist, I should tell stories that would generate positive impacts, making a difference in people’s life. There’s no such a thing that the impact is big or small. To those who are in need, they all deserve such an impact.

Modernization of Beijing Opera

Beijing Opera is a gem of Chinese traditional art. However, we have to admit that this form of art is going downward. Highly abstract performance, slow rhythm, consistent melody are less attractive to younger generations. In spite of  the efforts of training new performers from an early age, Chinese operas are losing their audience. Crowded funs gathering in front of stages and watching operas has become the history.

Too much sexy but too little about opera?

Recently a group of pictures named “Who said Beijing Opera is not Sexy” caught my attention. My attention was caught firstly from appeal to the beauty of some pictures (as the one on the left), but then as I moved on to other pictures, I didn’t get it (as the one on the right). It’s hard to tell what makes the differences between the ones that appeal to me with the ones that I feel they are overly sexy. One possible reason is the initial ideas from the artists: whether the artist want to highlight the opera or the sexy models.

My curiosity drove me to do some research about the modernization of traditional arts in China. There are already some criticism towards modernization of traditional operas, questioning that they are distorting and disfiguring the soul of traditional arts. For example, many experts feel upset about an underwear show featuring Beijing Opera. The experts don’t like the idea of showing the beauty of Beijing Opera through nudity. Some critics even stated that national traditions are not supposed to be modernized and distorted. After thinking about the pros and cons, I agree and disagree with the criticism.

The traditional form of arts shows the shining, luxury but distant beauty from old times.

Should Beijing Opera be modernized?

 

 

 

I understand those who criticized the modernization are making their criticism based on the love of Chinese traditions, but we have to admit that simply resisting modern reform might prevent the opera to attracting new fans. I appreciate the creativeness and modern elements added to Beijing Opera. As one of the origins of Chinese arts, it is actually a good thing that Beijing Opera is inspiring contemporary artists, photographers and painters to create. To some extent, good contemporary creations do help to maintain the traditional arts, appealing more people to become interested in the old arts. Therefore, more people would want to watch and learn the opera. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that we have to use nudity to attract people to watch operas. Selling products under the name of traditional arts would also be considered distasteful.

So the bottom-line would be it is fine to add modern and sexy elements to traditional arts as long as they are added to demonstrate the traditional arts to today’s audience. However, if these elements are overly added, it would become sensationalism. In this case, it would be adding traditional arts to those pictures for the sake of sexy appeal, rather than arts modernization.